OMAHA, NEB. — With Michael Phelps bypassing the 200-meter freestyle on Monday morning, the most intriguing story of the preliminary heats was Ryan Lochte's physical condition.
Lochte strained his groin swimming the 400-meter individual medley on Sunday and ultimately finished third in a final won by Bel Air native Chase Kalisz. Kalisz demolished Lochte in the breaststroke, perhaps the most demanding stroke on a swimmer's legs.
But the injury did not keep Lochte from jumping back in the pool Monday for the 200 freestyle. His time of 1 minute, 47.77 seconds was good enough for him to move on in the event but well back of top qualifier Conor Dwyer.
"The turns and doing the butterfly kick off each wall, I could definitely feel it," Lochte said of his injury. "But I can't dwell on it. It is what it is. It's going to be there. It's a constant pain, but I have to try to forget about it the best I can."
He put up the best American time of 2015 in the 200 freestyle, and he's one of the favorites to make the Olympic team in the event.
Lochte's injury will likely remain a question all week, because he'll need to swim the breaststroke again on Thursday and Friday, when he's scheduled to take on Phelps in the 200 IM.